Bullying Resolution Services

Bullying Resolution Services is a new venture of Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D., director of Embrace Civility in the Digital Age, as a way to help parents achieve an effective resolution of the more serious or chronic situations where your child is being repeatedly bullied or harassed, the response by the school has not been effective in resolving the situation!  It is anticipated this service will be more fully initiated in fall 2019. 

First Step: Be Positively Powerful: An Empowerment Plan for Teens Who Are Bullied or Harassed

Please obtain a copy of this book so you and your child can gain insight into strategies to become more empowered.

 

 

 

A New Pathway to a Resolution

While many parents and students become frustrated with the response of the principal when serious or chronic situations are reported, too often they may think that nothing more can be done or they do not know how to proceed. Depending on your child’s “status,” there are four possible paths:

  • If your child has disabilities and is on an IEP or 504 Plan, the school is required to address this in an IEP or 504 meeting.
    • See more below.
  • If your child is within a protected class–race, religion, national origin, sexual minority or orientation, disabilities–this constitutes discriminatory harassment under civil rights laws.
    • Complaints on this basis can be filed with the district, with appeal to the Oregon Department of Education. Alternatively, a complaint can be filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
  • If your child is experiencing sexual harassment, this constitutes a violation of Title IX.
    • Complaints on this basis can be filed with the district, with appeal to the Oregon Department of Education. Alternatively, a complaint can be filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
  • In all of the above situations–and for any other student who does not fit into one of these categories–it is possible to file a complaint at the district level under Oregon’s bullying prevention statute.
    • Unfortunately, in this situation it is not possible to appeal a complaint made at the district level with the Oregon Department of Education. Legislation is pending in the Oregon State Legislature to allow for this.
    • However, if your child is being persistently treated badly and is demonstrating symptoms of traumatic distress, it may be possible for you to obtain a mental health diagnosis of Specified Trauma- and Stressors Disorder. If this is accomplished, then under federal civil rights laws, your child has a “disability” and the bullying of your child on any basis constitutes discriminatory harassment and you can proceed on this basis.

(Note: I am using the term “parent” for anyone who is in a parenting capacity.)

Background Insight

These documents will be of assistance to your understanding. Some parents may be able to make use of these documents to document what is happening and file a complaint independently.

  • Positive Resolutions. A document that outlines what currently is not working and what schools should be doing to create positive change.
  • Documentation Guide. A document that outlines what information should be gathered to make an effective complaint.
  • Template for Complaint. This complaint is based on the form for the Office for Civil Rights, but can be adapted to other complaint forms.
  • Students with Disabilities. This document outlines what schools should do if a student with disabilities is being harassed.
  • Requesting an Independent Education Evaluation. As discussed below, if the school has not responded effectively to the harassment of a student with disabilities, it should be possible to request an Independent Education Evaluation to provide guidance on this.
  • Mental Health. If your child is not within a protected class, but is experiencing significant mental health challenges, it may be possible to obtain a diagnosis of Specified Trauma and Stressors-Related Disorder (a form of PTSD). With such a diagnosis or a diagnosis of any other mental health challenge, your child is considered under federal law to have a disability and the harassment of your child is considered discriminatory harassment under federal law.

Resolution Services

Complaint Services

These Bullying Resolution Services have been created to support parents whose children are being bullied or harassed in more serious or chronic situations and the school’s response has not been effective. The response has likely not been effective for the following reasons:

  • The principal has not done a comprehensive investigation.
  • The intervention plan has not met the civil rights standard of taking steps reasonably calculated to stop the harassment, prevent retaliation, remedy the harmful harm and prevent further harm to the target, and correct the environment to reduce the likelihood the hurtful acts will continue.

In situations such as this, I can provide services in documenting what the situation is and assisting the parent in filing a complaint with the district and assist in appealing the complaint to the Oregon Department of Education. It is also possible to file a complaint at the same time with the federal Office for Civil Rights.

Independent Educational Evaluation

If your child has disabilities and is receiving services either on an IEP or a 504 plan, the school is required to address the concerns of the harassment of your child in an IEP or 504 meeting, after conducting a prompt, unbiased, and thorough investigation.

If the school did not conduct a prompt, unbiased, and thorough investigation and address the concern discussion in an IEP or 504 meeting, as schools have been directed to do by the federal government and/or if the intervention plan of action did not include taking steps reasonably calculated to stop the harassment, prevent retaliation, remedy the harmful harm and prevent further harm to your child, and correct the environment to reduce the likelihood the hurtful acts will continue, you can request what is called an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).

Under IDEA there is a requirement that the district pay for this IEE. If they do not want to do so, they must request a due process hearing. The district has “criteria” for who can conduct an IEE, but there are specific regulations that state that if there are unique circumstances, the parent can request someone who does not meet this criteria.

There is no specific requirement in 504 that requires the district pay for an IEE. But getting someone independent into this situation is likely the only way to get an effective resolution. And a parent can and should request an IEE. 

If the district turns down this request and this situation is causing interference with their child’s right to receive an education, parents can file a discriminatory harassment complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. If a school does not approve a reasonable request for an IEE, given the failure to take the other steps they are required to take, this could be further evidence of deliberate indifference.

Initiating Services

To start, I would like to hold a short, no-cost telephone conversation with you. It is my intent to do this pre-screening to determine whether your situation is at a point where my services will be of assistance to you.

Please contact me at nwillard@embracecivility.org to arrange for this initial conversation.

If your child does not have disabilities, but is being bullied or harassed based on other reasons, I can provide assistance. We will have to discuss how to proceed.

Commitment

My approach to resolution is positively supportive of all students—including those who are being hurtful who may also require better intervention and support. I will seek to help you to require that the school implement positive strategies that support all involved students.

While I cannot guarantee positive results, I am committed to working passionately to address the concerns faced by your child. I will also provide guidance on how to proceed if initial efforts are not successful. 

My Expertise

The following documents set forth my background and expertise:

My professional resume.

You can also review the other resources on my site to see that I am indeed focused on supporting schools in implementing research-based strategies that will better support all students in fostering positive relations and responding effectively when hurtful incidents do occur. 

Lay Advocate ~ Not Legal Services

A well-known practice within the special education field is known as Parent Advocates. I am seeking to serve as an Advocate for parents to address concerns of bullying or harassment of their child. I have not found anyone who has tried to do this, so this is a new venture.

While I am a former attorney, I no longer practice law. I do sometimes work as a trial consultant for other attorneys.

The services I offer are not legal services. While I understand the regulatory requirements under IDEA and the civil rights laws, the primary focus of my guidance will be grounded in effective bullying prevention practices—not legal requirements. If I identify a situation where it would be advisable for a parent to consult with an attorney, I will make an appropriate referral.

Services for Schools or Districts

Oregon school leaders can also request assistance in responding to chronic bullying and harassment situations through investigation, mediation, a restorative conference, or assisting in an IEP/504 meeting in a situation where a student with disabilities is being bullied or engaging in bullying.

I truly believe Oregon’s school leaders and staff do not want to see bullying and harassment occurring in school or online, want to respond effectively, and want all students to feel safe, happy, and successful in school. If a school asks for my assistance for a specific situation, I will seek to engage in coaching to assist key staff in gaining the insight and skills into how they can respond to other situations.

Contact

Contact me at nwillard@embracecivility.org for more information.

 

 

 

 

Share this: